Monday, March 30, 2015

拉麺帝王 (Ramen Teio in Chiba)



More Ramen Riders!


So I mentioned that we were being filmed for a TV show. The plan was to hit up three ramen shops in Chiba. The first was Ezawa. Check. The second was Harada, another Tatsuura tantanmen shop, only about five minutes from Ezawa. When we arrived, they had just run out of noodles. This was just after 1:30pm. Keep that in mind for any future rides.


The next shop on our list, Daichan, was also closed! Are you kidding! Actually, the TV crew loved it, and the theme of this shoot, along with another one we did in Tokyo, was of me being a bumbling foodie who shows up at shop after shop, only to be greeted with a closed sign.

Good for TV, kind of bad for the ego.


Had a nice ride at least.


Well, the crew wanted more footage, so we searched for the closest shop within the city limits. This was Kimitsu City, a city not known for much. Ramen Teio was ranked number four in town. Not sure if that is a good or bad sign, as the local shops were few in number to start with. That ranking may be number four out of five.


And . . . action!


I always feel bad dissing a ramen shop on TV. But usually a shop with such a large menu is asking for it.


I went with the Katsuura tantanmen inspired bowl. You know, to compare to the bowl I had earlier.


Actually, it was quite nice.


This is a simple style, and then addtion of some excellent chashu made it a welcome meal. Very much a local's place, with comics for the kids and TVs for the adults. I could see a nearby family coming here once a week and having a simple evening out.


Map of 千葉県君津市北子安6-17-8

Chiba-ken, Kimitsu-shi, Kitakoyasu 6-17-8
Closest station: Kimitsu

Open 11:00-14:30, 17:00-22:00
Closed Wednesdays

Thursday, March 26, 2015

江ざわ (Ezawa in Katsuura, Chiba)



Ramen Riders! Let's do this!


First a bit of an introduction. We rode our bikes to Katsuura, a small city in the southeast of Chiba Prefecture. Not a lot out here; just some nice beaches, a lot of farms, and an original style of ramen.

Katsuura tantanmen is in a class of its own. Not tantanmen in any sense of the Chinese relative, dandanmien. Not at all. Katsuuta tantanmen is characterized by a shoyu soup hit with a large amount of rayu spicy oil, and topped with plenty of raw diced onions. The existence of a local tantanmen map is proof that this town is serious about their local style.


Ezawa is the ganso, or founder of Katsuura tantanmen. I'd actually gone to the original shop not once, but twice, and been rejected each time (they were closed). Since then, they have moved into this shiny new building. And though the walls are clean and modern, the soup is the same as its been since the 60s.


Just two of us this time, as this was very short notice for a ride. We were followed by a TV crew who was shooting for some late-night show that will air in Osaka in the near future.


"Whether coming or going, you'll be thinking of Ezawa." Or something along those lines.


The menu is simple. Tantanmen for 800 yen seemed like the best bet.


I was initially mixed on this one. I didn't really understand how un-tantan this tantanmen was until first sip. That was definitely a negative for me, as the fiery burn of spicy Chinese noodles is one of my favorite things. I also don't like raw onions so much. Another negative.

But then, after a minute or two passed, and the onions softened a bit, this ramen took on a deep flavor. It felt very countryside, like something they'd make in a giant pot and feed a farming family of 15. Good stuff, full of energy. The spice was a slow burn. The regular level (you can opt for medium or strong spice) seemed to be just right for someone who enjoys spiciness.


The layer of spicy oil meant I wouldn't be finishing every drop, until I read a sign on the wall. Basically, "When you finish the bowl, you'll have a surprise!"


I can't pass up a challenge!


What was the secret at the bottom?


まいど. Maido is Kansai dialect for thank you. That was a brutal journey just for that.

Regardless, maido to Ezawa for sure. Though I'm still confused about the tantanmen moniker, as far as ramen goes, this one was a success.


Map of 江ざわ

Chiba, Ken, Katsuura-shi, Shiraikubo 296-8
Closest station: Katsuura

Open 11:30-19:00
Closed Mondays


Brian's Guide to 50 Great Tokyo Ramen Shops




ラーメンは外国人の間でも大ブーム。 ニューヨークに出店したラーメン店は 連日行列という人気ぶりです。 本書では、大人気のラーメンブロガー・ブライアンが選んだ 東京のラーメン50軒を紹介。 英語の原文も掲載しているので、 日本を訪れる外国人旅行者のガイドブックとしても活用できます。 〜内容〜 ●はじめに ●ブライアンのラーメン食べ歩き ●東京ラーメン店紹介 豚骨・鶏白湯ラーメン/醤油ラーメン/味噌ラーメン 塩ラーメン/つけ麺/オリジナルラーメン ●ブライアンのラーメンアドベンチャー 喜多方編 ●ブライアンのラーメンアドベンチャー 尾道編 ●ブライアンのラーメンアドベンチャー 福岡編 ●ぼくのラーメン二郎物語 ●ブライアンのラーメンアドベンチャー 千葉編

1978年、アメリカ生まれ。英語教師として働く東京で、2008年にうまいラーメンと出会い、ラーメンの食べ歩きを始める。同年、自分が食べたラーメンを紹介するブログ“Ramen Adventures”を開始、いまでは毎月10万件のアクセスを誇る。NYタイムズの取材を受けるほか、TV番組「知っとこ!」「スーパーJチャンネル」などに出演するなど、アメリカ人の日本のラーメン通としてメディアにもたびたび登場。日本中のラーメン店を1000軒以上食べ歩き、今も新しい味を求めて日々ラーメン店巡りを続けている。

Monday, March 23, 2015

bird in Osaka



I'll admit, I'm a sucker for gimmicky ramen. And a bowl topped with cotton candy is about as gimmicky as it gets!


This tiny shop is just off one of the many covered shotengai shopping streets that criss-cross Osaka. I guess this area is considered Nakazaki, or maybe it is still part of Umeda. Either way, wandering around this part of central Osaka felt foreign and confusing to me. I love it, being lost in a new town.


Unfortunately, the craft beer bar next door was completely full, or else I would have waited there for Mr. Philoramen, another ramen blogger whom I met recently. I opted, instead, to wander around what seemed to be the center of Kansai's love hotel district. This part of town is loud, dirty, and colorful. Perfect for drinks and ramen.


bird has only ramen and tsukemen on the menu, with either normal or thick. The master recommended the thicker one.


Ok, here's the deal. That cloud of spun sugar almost immediately dissolves into the soup. Sugar in ramen sounds bad, but quite often the tare seasoning contains a lot of sweet mirin and sugar, and some of the best chashu is very, very sweet.


The spun sugar, as long as it is mixed properly into the soup, wasn't a problem at all. In fact, I really dug this 100% chicken soup. It was thick and creamy, with noodles that matched very well. The chashu, a thick-cut piece, had obviously been stewing in some delicious sauce for a while.


The problem, and it was a big one, arose when I tried my friend's soup. He hadn't mixed the sugar into the soup completely, and I got a massively sweet hit of light soup and sugar. So much sugar, in fact, that my taste buds were a bit wrecked. As I left the shop, I had a bad taste in my mouth (pun intended). Make sure you don't make my mistake, unless you have a serious sweet tooth.


Map of 大阪府大阪市北区堂山町8-10

Osaka-shi, Kita-ku, Doyamacho 8-10
Closest station: Umeda

Open 17:00-5:00am

Thursday, March 19, 2015

7.5Hz+ in Osaka

麺屋7.5Hz+ 梅田店


7.5Hz+ is a shop with a few branches in Northern Osaka, all serving an excellent takaida style ramen. Before I continue, I should mention that, while writing this, I am listening to a binaural 7.5htz theta wave meditation audio track. This sort of sound is meant to induce deep levels of relaxation in the subconscious mind.


Takaida ramen (高井田ラーメン) is an Osaka style with a few key characteristics. The noodles are thick and straight. The dashi is made from chicken and konbu kelp. The liberal addition of heavy soy sauce is a must. It sounds very simple, but digging into a bowl of this stuff is a very unique experience.

I should also note that takaida style is meant to be a bit rustic, and emerged as a post-war comfort food in the hustle and bustle of Osaka.


Very comforting indeed. I think the use of this type of noodle, almost like udon, fits amazingly well.


After listening to that audio track for the last 15 minutes, I can actually say that I feel relaxed and content. Though those feelings might stem from reliving my memories of this bowl, spent slurping with my friend Ben, followed by a two hour nap on the bullet train back to Tokyo.

Official Site Here


Map of 大阪府大阪市北区梅田1-2‐2

大阪府大阪市北区梅田1-2‐2 大阪駅前第2ビル地下2階 52-1
Osaka, Kita-ku, Umeda 1-2-2
Closest station: Umeda

Open 11:00-22:00

Monday, March 16, 2015

多聞 (Tamon in Sakai, Osaka)

つけ麺 鉄餃子 多聞


I decided to pay a visit to Sakai, the hometown of my friend Akane. Akane is the translator who has been working diligently for the past couple of years at the Osaka Ramen School. To make the trip even more relevant, one of the school's former students has a shop in town. With some cheap rented bicycles, we set out to try it.


Handmade noodles and gyoza. I didn't try the dumplings, but a bowl of the shop's tamon tsukemen was a must. A little more expensive than the standard tsukemen, the tamon version has noodles made with whole wheat flour. As the school teaches a lot about noodle making, this special version was looking great.


Straight from Hokkaido to his noodle machine.


Wow, those were some great noodles. Very hearty, and I regret not getting a larger size.

The chashu was decadent, the egg perfect, and the menma crisp. All of this went into a very, very thick soup.


And the fact that this came out of the Osaka Ramen School made it even better!

Sakai is just a few minutes outside of Osaka's center, so check it out if you have a chance.


Map of 大阪府堺市堺区大町西2-2-1

Osaka-fu, Sakai-shi, Sakai-ku, Ochonishi 2-2-1
Closest station: Shukuin on the local tram, or Sakai

Open 11:30-14:00, 18:00-22:30
Closed Wednesdays